SPI 2014 - SEPA CEO Opens Solar Power International with ‘51st State' Challenge

New initiative aimed at creating innovative business models, policies for putting more solar on grid

LAS VEGAS OCT. 20 -- Imagine a future in which solar energy and all the industry stakeholders – from utilities to installers and manufacturers to customers – were unhampered by existing regulatory and market structures and the challenges and at times divisive debates they have created. What if we could start over again in a hypothetical 51st state, building from the ground up a fully diversified and integrated energy sector that would benefit all?

Julia Hamm, president and CEO of the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), opened Solar Power International in Las Vegas on Monday with a challenge and invitation to the thousands of industry leaders gathered for the four-day event to come up with their own ideas and visions of what this new market would look like and how it might work.

SEPA and the Solar Energy Industries Association co-sponsor Solar Power International, the leading solar industry conference in North America. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz is scheduled to deliver a keynote address on Wednesday, Oct. 22.

In her speech, Hamm stressed the need for ongoing industry innovation and collaboration. The 51st State Initiative, she said, will be a "test-bed that offers a new way to think about solar . . . and a resilient, reliable grid that powers the lights in this room and the phones in our pockets."

Announcing a 51st State website, www.SEPA51.com, where more details on the initiative will be posted in the coming weeks, Hamm said the goal is to share ideas that will open up "ways to make more effective progress in the crucial next few years."

In the first half of 2014, utility-scale solar projects of 5 megawatts (MW) and more added almost 1,500 MW of new energy capacity to the grid in the United States. Total capacity in this segment of the market now stands at 6,285 MW, according to figures from SEPA's research department.

About SEPA

The mission of the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) is to support utilities' integration of solar energy to the benefit of themselves, their customers and the public good. SEPA envisions a future in which solar represents a significant portion of the United States' electricity portfolio while maintaining healthy and vibrant utility and solar industries. Visit SEPA online at www.solarelectricpower.org and follow us on Twitter @utilitysolar.

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